On Monday I awoke to news that an old friend from Santa Cruz tragically died the afternoon before in a canoeing accident. My mind filtered through memories of and with him and his wife, though more severely cognizant of the many hearts who love this saint, who hurt deeply with the news of this unexpected loss.
But even in the midst of typing these words and letting his death be real, I recognize that “friend” is a loosely-held term, made even more confusing by the portals of the online world in recent years: If I’ve not talked to or seen someone in a couple of years, have they moved out of realm of friendship? If I’ve not “friended” – or been friended by someone I used to run with – does that at all lessen the memory or importance of him or her at some previous point in my life?
I think not.
Though I know that this loss is not at all about me, there’s still a part of me that walks the hallways of her high school, questioning whether or not I belong to Nick’s death – and instead of pulling out the box of cards and popping Renee an I’m so, so sorry note in the mail, I become more absorbed in wondering whether or not she’ll remember me.
I think these thoughts for this father and son and husband and friend in my head, and I pray a prayer of mercy over his family and over those who loved him so, while shouting why, why, why at the same time, but it doesn’t go any farther than the musings of my mind.
I do nothing.*
I’d venture a guess that many of us do the same thing: it’s so easy, given our jobs and the reality of the everyday to be on the receiving end of input all day long, with each piece vying for more attention than the one before. We’ve become adept at our own lightning-speed processing abilities of seeing an image or reading a post, and then deciding whether or not something is worth our time – all in 140-characters or less. I fear that with the crowd of input, with each new piece of information cramming more and more into our minds, there is a forced lack of empathy and response. And we don’t even realize it.
I guess I somewhat liken what I’d like my response to be to the Nike symbol: JUST DO SOMETHING. If your friend miscarries, don’t just wish her well in your head, but do what you do best, and bake her a plate of super ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies. Call or text or email that friend you know is hurting, even if the only words that come out are I don’t know what to say… That’s power enough, in and of itself. Pull down the box of cards and your favorite pen and get to know the inside of a post office again.**
But don’t do nothing.
Because when we’re on the receiving end of hurt and of grief and of mourning (…or whatever Life may have thrown our way), the lack of response our society is becoming more and more prone to hurts the most.
I’m pulling out my box of cards right now.
*Yes, prayers do count, don’t get me wrong – but that’s not the point of this post. **Shauna Niequist writes about this (paragraph’s) very topic in one of her books, although I’m not getting up from the comfy chair to do some recon and figure it out…
What about you? Do you agree, disagree? Should we step into just doing something instead of doing nothing at all?0